COLOMBO, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Sri Lankan shares ended weaker on Monday, slipping from their highest in 10 months hit in the previous session, as investors sold diversified shares two weeks ahead of presidential polls.
** Sajith Premadasa, the housing minister and one of the two presidential front-runners, last week announced his election manifesto, which is seen by analysts as a “broader policy framework”. His close rival Gotabaya Rajapaksa has pledged a tax overhaul that would reduce tax rate to 8% from the current 15% and abolish many taxes. ** Many political analysts that Reuters spoke to have said the tight race between the two presidential candidate was still on.
** The benchmark stock index ended 0.36% weaker at 6,010.18, slipping from its highest close since Jan. 4 hit on Friday. The index rose 1.6% for last week in its fourth weekly gain, but is down 0.70% for the year.
** Diversified stocks were among the top losers, with conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc falling 2%, while Cargills (Ceylon) Plc ended 3.7% down, LOLC Holdings Plc down 0.5% and Distillers Company of Sri Lanka Plc 0.56% weaker.
** The rupee ended 0.39% firmer at 180.40/60 per dollar, compared with Friday’s close of 181.10/25. The currency is up 1.22% so far this year.
** Foreign investors were net buyers of riskier assets for the first time in nine sessions on Monday.
** They bought a net 112.2 million rupees ($621,778.89) worth of shares on Monday, but they have been net sellers of 4.33 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year, according to index data.
** Equity market turnover was 709.6 million rupees, more than this year’s daily average of about 673.3 million rupees. Last year’s daily average was 834 million rupees.
** Meanwhile, foreign investors bought government securities on a net basis for the second time in four weeks, buying a net 1.55 billion rupees worth of government securities in the week ended Oct. 30.
** Total foreign outflows from government securities through Oct.30 stood at 52.08 billion rupees, according to central bank data.
** Sri Lanka’s central bank left its key rates unchanged on Oct. 11 after loosening policy earlier this year, although growth is likely to remain subdued as the economy faces rising global risks.
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** For a report on major currencies, click ($1 = 180.4500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Arun Koyyur)